NFC South Notes: Cousins, Falcons, Ramczyk, Saints, Davis, Evans, Panthers

The Falcons are under investigation for tampering during their Kirk Cousins pursuit. Cousins said during his Falcons intro presser he spoke with the team’s trainer ahead of his official signing, which would be a violation. Cousins may well have revealed another tampering violation, indicating (via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio) he offered to call Darnell Mooney to help close the Falcons’ pitch to the former Bears wide receiver. Mooney committed to the Falcons on Day 2 of the tampering period. With Cousins’ deal not yet official at that point, such recruitment on behalf of the team would be a violation as well.

None of this will result in the Falcons losing Cousins, but a fine and/or a draft choice being stripped would be in play if the team is found to have violated the tampering policy (albeit during a stretch referred to as the legal tampering period). Given the multiple issues here, the Falcons certainly run the risk of being punished.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • In a division with two of the league’s restructure mavens, the Panthers are hoping to avoid such moves under new GM Dan Morgan. The former Carolina assistant GM said (via The Athletic’s Joe Person) he will aim to avoid kicking the can down the road in the form of restructures. Teams have turned to restructures more in the 2020s, as the larger cap spikes have helped clubs manage the bigger cap hits down the road, but both the Buccaneers and Saints have needed to take some medicine at points this decade due to restructures.
  • Having said that, the Panthers did reach a restructure agreement with Shaq Thompson to both create cap space and retain their longest-tenured player. This will reduce the 10th-year linebacker’s base salary to $3.1MM and clear around $3MM in cap space,’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Headed into his age-30 season, Thompson is coming off a two-game campaign halted by a fractured fibula. He is now on the Panthers’ cap sheet at $3.19MM.
  • Ryan Ramczyk finished last season on IR due to a knee injury that he admitted bothered him for nearly the entire season. A cartilage defect in his knee also brought some ominous comments from the standout right tackle, but he is on track to play an eighth season with the Saints. Ramczyk underwent what Dennis Allen (via’s Matthew Paras) labeled a minor knee procedure; he is expected to be ready for training camp. Additionally, Ramczyk agreed to a reworked contract that guarantees him $6.5MM this season, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. Ramcyzk’s 2021 extension previously had no guarantees left, but it called for a $27MM 2024 cap number. This reworking brought that down to $12.9MM, and’s Mike Triplett refers to it as a significant pay cut. Ramczyk is signed through 2026, but no guarantees are due beyond 2024.
  • The Saints also brought James Hurst‘s cap number down from $6.5MM to $2.9MM,’s Nick Underhill tweets. Two void years are present in Hurst’s deal, but the veteran O-lineman, who has been needed to start over the past three seasons, is due for free agency in 2025.
  • New Orleans’ latest Demario Davis contract (two years, $17.25MM) will bring $13.25MM in guarantees,’s Katherine Terrell tweets. The team is guaranteeing $2.5MM of Davis’ $6.5MM 2025 base salary, with Terrell adding a $1.75MM roster bonus will be due next year. That roster bonus will be key in determining if Davis plays the 2025 season in New Orleans; the new deal dropped Davis’ 2024 cap hit from $18.1MM to $6.2MM.
  • Not quite as prolific as the Saints on the restructure front, the Buccaneers have been aggressive here since the Tom Brady signing. Tampa Bay has already restructured Mike Evans‘ deal, per MLFootball, with his $21.8MM roster bonus into a signing bonus. This freed up $17.4MM in cap space, which the Bucs put to good use as they re-signed Baker Mayfield and Lavonte David following the application of Antoine Winfield Jr.‘s franchise tag.
  • The PanthersDane Jackson contract is for two years and worth $8.5MM in base value, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. While this NFL period has featured Carolina-to-Buffalo moves, the veteran cornerback will make the reverse trip and do so for $5.12MM guaranteed. The guarantees cover $1MM of Jackson’s 2025 base salary ($3.74MM).
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